Hearing the familiar pitter patter of rain begin to sound on my tent, I wake up with a sense of dread, debating the fastest route to the only camp bathroom, inconveniently situated over a half-mile away from my tent. Despite quickly meandering through the unkempt trail from my tent to the bathroom, I find myself at the end of a line of about twelve irritable girls, all waiting for one of three tiny, grimy showers. Waiting in line, I am overcome with joy, looking forward to the first day at Camp C.R.U.M.Y. – the highlight of my summer vacation. While the name “C.R.U.M.Y” may appear a misnomer with a negative connotation, it actually stands for Custer Road United Methodist Youth group. I wait all year for this unique vacation. For one week I trade my straightened hair for a frizzy up-do to serve as a Vacation Bible School Counselor for underprivileged children in a remote town in Tennessee. Remembering the once in a life time opportunity I traveled on a crowded van for forty-eight hours, I forget about the countless bugs crawling around my tent. Instead, I look forward to the sweet demeanors of the young children who eagerly await the day’s endeavors. I look forward to the new perspective, unconditional gratitude, and positive outlook I gain every year from someone half my height.
From these young children bursting with joy, I learn invaluable lessons that could never be taught from a textbook. While the line to shower seems to have halted, my mind reflects back on specific relationships I gained the previous summer. One particularly gleaming face came to mind: Vicky, a seven year old girl with a constant smile glued to her face. As the campers swarmed onto the tennis courts for song time, Vicky glommed on to her much older sister and followed her lead. With a tight grip on her sister’s wrist, Vicky stayed by her sister’s side timidly awaiting further instruction. It was then I noticed Vicky’s odd footwear. Her well-worn flip-flops were about three sizes too big and barely stayed on her feet as she shuffled behind her sister while maintaining a tight hold on her sister’s quickly reddening wrist. Throughout the day, I noticed Vicky’s vibrant personality shine through as she opened up to her fellow campers. She exemplified her friendly, yet competitive determination through games and her passionate desire to learn as we read captivating passages of the Bible. At the end of the day, I had almost forgotten about her sad excuse for shoes in those worn flip-flops; she did not complain once during the arduous day of running and jumping. Vicky maintained a positive attitude and an incredible smile throughout the day. Fascinated by her jovial spirit, I asked Vicky if her flip-flops bothered her. With a puzzled look, Vicky responded that she always received her older sister’s hand-me-downs, whether it is flip-flops, t-shirts, or even back-packs. Vicky understood that material possessions did not matter in the long-run, but rather virtues carry intrinsic worth. While flip-flops become too worn to wear, morality lasts a life time.
Leading up to camp, the counselors spend weeks planning specific games, songs and a spiritual theme for the week. While the children enjoy these planned activities, it seems the true learning experiences come from simple conversations or a heartfelt hug. Years after CAMP C.R.U.M.Y., I may have forgotten the words to the humorous camp songs sung on the tennis courts or my impatience waiting in line to shower, but the life lessons I have learned from Vicky will leave a lasting imprint on my heart.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.